Monday, June 15, 2009

Iowa's Poor Air Quality

The Des Moines Register published this story about the poor air quality in the state, saying that pollutant level are nearing federal limits, which would require the state to mandate costly improvements from bussinesses.

The air across Iowa is so polluted that the state is perilously close to violating new federal limits aimed at protecting human health. Yet Iowans have no way of knowing what chemicals they are breathing because of a limited - and often inaccurate - system of monitoring pollution statewide, a Des Moines Register investigation found.

Catharine Fitzsimmons, Iowa's top air-quality official, defended Iowa's existing air-monitoring system. Yet she said the state is under orders from the federal government to better monitor fine-particle and ozone pollution, among Iowa's most pressing air-quality problems.

"Both of those pollutants affect respiratory systems, particularly in the young, the elderly and those with compromised lung function," Fitzsimmons said. "They trigger heart attacks and other health problems."

Iowans should know better in a couple of years what is coming out of the stacks of Iowa's greatest polluters. The state's Department of Natural Resources will begin requiring major industries to do more thorough testing for fine particles after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency releases a long-awaited protocol.

But a top environmental advocate said what Iowans are breathing today is worse than people think.

"It's surprisingly bad," said Donna Wong-Gibbons, a physiologist with Plains Justice, an environmental advocacy group. "It's sort of a paradox in the sense that Iowa is thought of as this great state with farm country and open land, and at the same time there are serious problems with air pollution."

1 comment:

Dr. Proctor said...

I am glad to see that you wrote on this subject. Is what a topic that came up when I chatted with Bob Krause, who is running for Senate in 2010. Really liked his ideas.